Bratislava, Slovakia – The Slovak government has just approved a historic minimum wage hike a few months ahead of key elections.
In 2020, the minimum wage will increase by 11.5% to reach €580 gross per month, up from €520 today.
After months of negotiations, the government compromised between the demands of trade unions, who were asking for a minimum wage of around €610, and employers, who lobbied for the minimum wage to bet set around €550 per month.
This is the biggest single minimum wage hike in Slovakia in the last 17 years.
Last year, the minimum wage was increased by 8%.
“Increasing people’s living standards must be our priority. The current government as well as the previous one of which Smer-SD formed part has adopted plenty of social measures”, said Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. “Next year, Slovaks will see an increase in the minimum wage, as well as in the non-taxable part of the tax base… people will have more money in their wallets”.
Both employers and the government’s junior coalition partners, the Slovak National Party (SNS) and Most-Hid, have come out against such a significant increase, claiming it would dent the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors and companies who might be tempted to relocate their businesses and factories elsewhere, where labour costs are smaller.
The ruling Smer-SD party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico, however, went ahead despite the opposition and pessimistic economic forecasts, to approve the hike, unprecedented in nearly two decades.
Analysts and opposition lawmakers were quick to accuse the government of blatant electioneering and of buying the votes of Slovak citizens, a few months ahead of national elections scheduled for March 2020.